History of Dorsch Memorial Branch Library:
The first Monroe City Library was established in 1828. The library was under the supervision of the village council and presided over by the city clerk.
In 1837, the city was incorporated and the library was transferred and controlled by the common council and the school inspectors. Money raised by the council bought the books which were brought to Monroe by wagons and steamers.
A small room in a building on the Public Square housed the books in 1842. The building contained the library and the office for the city clerk. The portion of the building that housed the library had formerly been the U.S. Land Office.
In 1866, a collection of German literature books were purchased for the German population. In 1873, the library under an act of the legislature was transferred to the Board of Education.
Over the next 15 years, the library would be housed in a number of buildings. The first move was to a brick building adjoining the First National Bank Building on Washington Street. The second floor rooms contained nearly 2,500 books. By 1900 the library had moved to 17 South Monroe Street. The library was open every afternoon and evening September through June. During the summer the hours were restricted to Wednesday evenings and Saturday afternoons.
In 1914 Augusta Uhl Dorsch died, and her home was left to the City of Monroe as a memorial to her husband Dr. Eduard Dorsch. By 1924, the public demand for library services spurred a 60 ft. addition to the building. The addition was built onto the south end, with the second floor providing an auditorium and a stage. Four years later the second floor auditorium was transformed into a children's department where a regular story hour was conducted on Saturdays during the winter months. Children were not allowed in the main library downstairs, but came in a side door that led directly upstairs. The library now housed between 11,000 and 12,000 books.
The Dorsch Memorial Library continued operations throughout the Depression years. Records indicate that the general circulation for the library was 18,501 in 1936. Non-fiction constituted 34% of the circulation. The 1936 Annual Report noted that Monroe readers favored general literature, biographies and "useful arts" which included engineering and mechanics. The following year an East Side Branch was established. In 1962 the Dorsch Memorial Library merged with the Monroe County Library, becoming part of the current Monroe County Library System. In 1986-87 the branch again underwent major renovations to make the building handicapped accessible. A new ramp and entrance, new restrooms, and an elevator were installed.
Programs are offered on a regular basis, including children's storytimes and events in concert with the Downtown Monroe Business Network. Popular services include the availability of major newspapers, stock and mutual fund resources, and Internet access.
Cat's Meow Village
Dorsch Memorial Library has been featured in the Cat's Meow Historic Monroe series. A Ginkgo tree accessory piece is also available.
Dr. Eduard Dorsch and the Dorsch Memorial Library
Newspaper Articles about the Dorsch Memorial Branch Library
Dorsch Memorial Library - January 26, 1916
Old Home of Pioneer Physician and Poet Opened as New Library Next Week - March 2, 1916
Dorsch Memorial Library Opened to Public Last Night - March 7, 1916
New Fiction Section Opened - April 5, 1916
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